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tonight on "nightline," the magic pill. good-bye diet, so long exercise. not exactly. but these new drugs will try to trick your brain and body into believing you're full. but do they work? and how much weight will these people lose when they try them? risky business. a porn star's hiv diagnosis sends another scare through the adult film industry. but can those who sell sex really be forced to change their ways? lisa ling investigates. plus, sweet dreams. we take an exotic journey to a birthplace of chocolate. could this be the finest tasting confection in the entire world? >> announcer: from the global
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resources of abc news, with terry moran, martin bashir and cynthia mcfadden in new york city, this is "nightline," november 12th, 2009. >> good evening, i'm terry moran. and, we're going to begin tonight with a legitimate health crisis in this country. two-thirds of americans are either overweight or down right obese, and that is a staggering statistic when you think about it. one that continues to rise. anyone who's struggled to lose weight knows just how hard it can be. there's an entire industry worth tens of billions of dollars built around slimming down. so, no wonder pharmaceutical companies are searching for that magic pill, a silver bullet to win the battle of the bulge. brian rooney has tonight's report. >> reporter: at age 60, and 177 pounds, meg evans of san diego somehow has enough agility to play goalie for her amateur sommer team.
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she's been an athlete all her life. soccer player, swimmer. mother of four girls, and, a person who grew heavier and heavier as the years went on. >> i did the curves diet, and i lost 20 pounds on that, but then i -- it's something that you have to stick to their exact menu, and it just wasn't me, didn't work. i would gain it back. >> reporter: then, a couple of years ago, her blood pressure shot up, and she had to find a solution. and just a few miles away, 42-year-old chris dickerson had grown up as the pudgy kid, then became the fat guy. overweight his entire life. >> my grandmother is from arkansas and taught my mother how to cook, and, you know, fried taters, you know, pies, cakes. >> reporter: as a father, he was having difficulty even throwing a ball with his son. >> being able to get out and do things with him, i was tired. i had no energy. >> reporter: his blood pressure
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was high and he was afraid of developing diabetes. he had to do something, too. both chris and meg were admitted to the blind testing for one of a new class of diet drugs developed by three california companies for which there are huge hopes a drug called qnexa. contrave is the combination of an appetite sue press sanlt and a second drug that speeds weight loss. and another drug is entirely new, designed to switch much appetite in the brain and maintain metabolism. is the weight loss pill one of the holy grails of the medical profession? >> correct. all the medical problems are all related to weight. so, if somehow we can get weight down, we correct six to ten other major problems in the u.s. >> reporter: the general estimate is that two-thirds of the american population is overweight, and a third is actually obese.
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fat and headed for serious trouble. >> obesity is a chronic disease and we need to think about chronic medication for it. >> reporter: meg and chris say they really didn't feel much of anything as they began to take the drug. >> i really thought i was on the placebo for a long time because i didn't have any side effects. i didn't really realize that i didn't have any hunger pains. >> you have that full feeling instead of, you have to clean your plate every time. >> reporter: going back to the days in nature when fuse was scare and you had to chase it the body has mechanisms to prevent weight loss. >> if you lost just 15 or 20 pounds, afternoon that, your body would stop the weight loss. it would lower your metabolism, make you think about food. that's hard to beat. >> reporter: in a world in which people are nourished on an excess of food and piling on pounds, some doctors and researchers say it isn't so simple of the old advice, diet and exercise. ask meg and chris. >> i never ate wisely. i love my food. i love to cook.
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that's me. >> reporter: you couldn't get yourself to eat wisely. >> no, no. it wasn't trained to, really. >> reporter: most diet drugs have not worked well, and some have been dangerous. fen-phen was taken much the market because it caused heart disease, and another drug failed fda approval because it caused depression. >> the problem is, if you throw multiple lefers that regulate chemical pathways in the brain, there's a chance you're going to reap the whirlwind. >> reporter: they say you have to do the hard work of diet and exercise. and, in fact, both chris and meg changed either what they ate or how much, and they started to exercise. >> we have evolved into a quick fix active ingredient silver bullet kind of society, so, many people would rather wait for a wonder drug to come along to fix their weight control issues. >> reporter: an effective diet pill will make it possible for some patients to keep stuffing
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themselves and lose weight, too. but researchers and drug manufacturers are in the business of making wonder drugs. the silver bullet. americans already spend $35 billion a year on losing weight. for the drug industry, cracking weight loss is the next big thing. safe and successful weight loss drugs stand to make billions and billions of dollars in a market starving for a solution. >> every day, patients come to my office and ask for help to, in getting them to lose weight. >> reporter: qnexa reports an average weight loss of 14.7% in one year. contrave reports an average loss of between 8.1 and 11.5%. >> our market research shows that the drug will be very successful to address the biggest need for this market, which is to allow patients to lose weight in a safe fashion, and keep the weight off over a
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long period of time, and that's really what patients and doctors are looking for. >> reporter: and chances are, once people are on these drugs, they may be on them for years, maybe even some for life. >> you can't just start it, the weight comes down, you can stop it. a lot of the medications for people who are seriously overweight are long-term medications, just like blood pressure, cholesterol. >> reporter: in their studies, none of the drug developers have reported serious side effects and side effects are the achi e achilles heel of any drugs. meg and chris were part of the study for qnexa. meg's life is changing. her blood pressure is down, her athlete's knees don't hurt as much, and here is the chart of her weight loss. 232 pounds down to 177. absent drugs, it was near to impossible for you? >> oh, yeah. >> reporter: why do you think that is? >> i don't know.
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i suppose i would just get too ngry. i suppose -- your body gets used to that same amount of food and it just yells at you and i obey my body. >> reporter: and chris dickerson's weight loss, 343 pounds down to 270. and still dropping. life is better at home on the tram poe line with the kids. he never would have done that at 343 pounds. >> it takes someone who wants to change their life too to do the right thing. you have to want to make the change yourself. getting to enjoy life now is the big change, so -- and this right here. >> reporter: all of these drugs still need fda approval. they're at least a year from being prescribed by your doctor. but we may just be on the verge of being able to have our cake and lose weight, too. this is brian rooney for "nightline" in san diego. >> you know, that should still probably be a small piece of
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cake. thanks to brian rooney for that. when we come back, we're going to turn to a different health crisis, in the porn industry. we're going to look at porn stars and protection as an hiv diagnosis reignites an old industry debate. chug that coffee, bolt that burrito. no matter what life throws at you, you can take the heat. until it turns into... heartburn. good thing you've got what it takes to beat that heat, too. zantac. it's strong, just one pill can knock out the burn. it's fast, the speed you need for heartburn relief. and it lasts, up to 12 hours. so let them turn up the heat. you can stop that heartburn cold. (sssssssss!!!) zantac. the same impressive highway uel economy you get in a mini. now, in a not-so-mini size. the all-new gmc terrain. with an epa estimated 32 miles per gallon highway.
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porn pornography is a billion dollar business in the united states, an addiction for many. a license to print money for the porn moguls, and a very risky business for the performers. sexuality transmanipulated diseases are a fact of life for those who appear in adult films. a risk that was underscored in june by one actor's hiv infection. but as "nightline" contributor lisa ling found, don't expect condoms to be the answer to this okccupational health hazard. >> reporter: how many women were you having sex with at the height of your career?
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>> maybe ten women nonstop. you work from 8:00 in the morning to maybe 8:00 at night. and that's one scene. >> reporter: it was all part of a job darren did successfully for nearly eight years. until 2004, when darren got the call all porn performers dread. get that call, everything stops. i have the virus. and my whole world just crashed. >> reporter: so you don't know how you got infected. >> i don't. >> reporter: did you infect people? >> three girls and i knew them. i felt bad. >> reporter: darren's infection shut down southern california's porn industry for a month, and when his identity as the original infection was made public, he says the isolation that followed drove him to attempt suicide. >> i know porn ain't the best business in the world, but it's all i had. >> reporter: he's campaigning now to make condom use mandatory in adult film. he predicted years ago his infection would not be the last the industry would see. in june of this year, he was proven right.
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>> actress was determined to be hiv positive. >> coming out of the adult movie industry. >> reporter: it was the first publicly confirmed hiv infection in southern california's porn industry since the outbreak caused by darren's case in 2004. the scare again raised questions about the safety of pornography made without condoms. what do you see the most of? >> chlamydia. it sticks to everything. >> reporter: sharon mitchell runs the adult industry medical health care foundation, or aim. a clinic set up by the adult industry to serve performers. >> we're not the con dumb police, but we do make it possible for everyone to exchange clean bills of health. >> reporter: the recent hiv infection of an adult performer was detected here. unlike darren's case, mitchell says this time the contamination was contained and no other performers were infected. so you believe that patient zero contracted hiv outside of the industry, but within the 30-day testing period. >> most definitely. we are really able to tell
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almost to the day. >> reporter: l.a. county officials say that more than 3600 cases of chlamydia an gonorrhea were reported among adult film performers since 2004. mitchell says she observes a lower inls dense rate of stds than is found in the general population. >> i have tried every possible way to convince companies to use condoms. and just still a lot of people don't like to use them. >> reporter: inside the porn industry, condoms are widely viewed as profit killers. >> the truth is that when they watch the movies, they are watching it for the fantasy. it just doesn't sell as well. that's just the fact. >> reporter: steve hirsch is the ceo of vivid xer statement, one of the country's most prolific producers. testing for std in the industry is voluntary, but vivid requires its performers to pride clear tests every 30 days in order to work.
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how, how does this work? what do you do? >> i go to talent search and today we're using nikki jayne. so, i type in her real last name and brings up her current results and tells me when it expires, so as long as i know it's within the 30 dames, it's not expired. >> reporter: so, you are about to have sex with someone in about ten minutes. >> yeah, yeah. >> reporter: do you know this guy? >> no, we met today. >> reporter: is that weird? >> no. not at all. >> reporter: i know that when you show up you have to show your test results, and the guy you're about to have sex with also had to do so. but what if he slept with someone last night and got infected? >> yeah, exactly. nothing is 100% safe. >> reporter: does that make you nervous? >> no, i don't think about that. >> reporter: while some companies say they offer female performers the option to use condoms, inside the industry, the decision to demand condom
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use is widely used as a choice to not work in porn. have you wanted to? >> if you wanted to, you wouldn't get any work. the point of the porn industry is to see something raw and really sexual. people should be using condoms in their real life but when they see on the screen, they don't really want to see that. >> reporter: mithis man believe the graphic nature of porn shoots invites risk. >> there are definitely sexual acts that are being depicted on film for the benefit of the fantasy of the audience that are much riskier than what normally goes on in people's bedrooms. you may have multiple performers at the same time. that increakreecreases the risk transmission. >> reporte >> reporter: so you believe that every performer should be mandated to wear condoms on set.
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>> i believe that every performer wants to wear condoms on the set. >> reporter: while we were there, this 18-year-old adult performer came to the aim clinic for her 30-day std test. >> how seriously do you take the testing? >> pretty seriously. there's a risk of getting aids. everyone is scared of getting it, so, got to get tested every month. >> reporter: you think it's worth the risk? >> not really, no. but got to do it for money, so. >> reporter: do you ever wear condoms? yeah, sometimes, but usually on set they don't want you to, so -- >> reporter: so do you feel like you would work a lot less if you dema demanded condoms? >> i think so. people usually don't want condoms, so, i don't think i would get as much work. >> reporter: you feel a lot of pressure? >> yeah. >> reporter: to not wear a condom. >> yeah.
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>> reporter: if you could -- >> i would definitely. i would make it a law or something. >> reporter: you think there should be a law? >> i think so, maybe. >> reporter: but hirsch and others inside the industry say a law requiring condom use would only push production underground. he says the known infection numbers prove that the current voluntary testing system works. >> we're talking about 250,000 scenes have been shot since 2004, and one person has tested positive. i like our track record. >> reporter: darren james still believes that's not good enough. >> why? is it worth it? to go through what i went through is probably the worst thing. getting that call, you got hiv. and then your whole life is upside down. only way to solve it is condoms, period. no way around it. >> reporter: i'm lisa ling for "nightline" in los angeles. >> a risky business, indeed for the people caught up in porn. thanks to lisa ling for that report. when we come back, a little something for the chocolate
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lovers. we go in search of what just might be the world's sweetest thing. jeep. ♪ knowing that, every day, i have a choice to make. between watching the clock... and occasionally, my back. ♪ or, i can greedily, rightfully, seize every ticking moment and never give one of them back. ♪ i live. i ride. i am. jeep. like my life is .split in two. there's the ife i live.
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and the life i want to live. fortunately, there's enbrel. enbrel can help relieve .pain, stiffness, fatigue, and stop joint damage. because enbrel suppresses .your immune system, it may lower your ability .to fight infections. serious, sometimes fatal, .events including infections, tuberculosis, lymphoma and nervous system and blood disorders " have occurred. before starting enbrel, yor doctor should test you for tuberculosis. also ask your doctor if .you live in an area with a greater risk for certain fungal infections. don't start enbrel if you have an infection, like the flu. tell your doctor if you're prone to infections, have cuts or sores, have had hepatitis b, have been treated or heart failure, or if, while on enbrel, you experience persistent fever, bruising, bleeding or paleness. ask your rheumatologist if enbrel is right for you, and help bridge the gap between the life you live and the life you want to live.
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>> announcer: "nightline" continues from new york city with terry moramoran. >> it's not in hershey, pennsylvania or in san francisco, or in that fifth avenue bar. nope. our mouth watering search for the world's finest chocolate took us all the way to a tropical forest in venezuela, and jeffrey kofman has this sweet assignment. >> reporter: this is a serious mission. okay, a seriously sweet and suity mission. i am trapsing through the tropical forest of venezuela. not where i imagine the search for the source of some of the world's finest chocolate would lead. okay, so, we knew it wasn't going to lead us here, to the weird wonderland of chocolate rivers found in "willy wonka and the chocolate factory." first of all, there are no oompa
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loompas, and no river of chocolate. but there are streams, the stuff of mouth watering dreams. well, let's go back to the tropical forest, where it all begins. that odd-shaped fruit is really a huge tropical berry. "that's right," says my guide, as he cracks open the fruit. it doesn't taste like it. it has the sweet, mushy taste of a fruit. where's the chocolate, i ask? "inside those seeds," says francisco. and there is the bean where it all begins. and it's here that chocolate began. most of the world's chocolate now comes from africa and indonesia, it all originally came from here on the edge of the amazon basin.
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what per essential stage comes from here? >> we produce less than 1% of the world crop. >> that's incredible. >> and we have the lowest productivity for any producing nation in the world. >> reporter: is that because we're in a country that has -- >> lots of petroleum. >> reporter: and pretty complex, messed up politics? i would say that. absolutely. >> reporter: on plantations like this, they are cultivating the original bean, hoping to brand pure venezuelan chocolate as the real thing. the process hasn't changed a lot since the indians here and in mexico began refining the bean long before the europeans showed up. the seedser ifment in the sun, then dry in the sun. it is beginning to look and smell a lot like chocolate. in the tiny co-ops here, the roasted beans are crushed, and
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the solid beans become pure liquid chocolate. refine it a couple of times, add some milk and sugar, pour it into a mold, and presto, chocolate bars and bon bons. the result? >> a little sweeter than the one over here, or this one. >> reporter: so it -- oh. that's -- that's heaven. >> got you, huh? >> reporter: heaven. yeah. wow. talk about a sweet story. i'm jeffrey kofman for "nightline" in venezuela. >> the quest for the perfect chot lam. rather than thanking jeffrey, maybe he should be thanking us for that one. coming up, a guilty plea in the balloon boy hoax. but first, jimmy kimmel with what's coming up next on "jimmy kimmel live." >> thanks, terry. coming up, danny devito, streeter and amir from "prank
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tv
Nightline
ABC November 12, 2009 11:35pm-12:05am EST

News/Business. Cynthia McFadden, Terry Moran, Martin Bashir. In-depth reporting on news and events with Cynthia McFadden, Terry Moran and Martin Bashir. New. (CC)

TOPIC FREQUENCY Darren 5, Venezuela 3, Brian Rooney 3, California 2, San Diego 2, Zantac 2, Heaven 2, Mitchell 2, Terry Moran 2, Chris Dickerson 2, Jeffrey Kofman 2, Indonesia 1, Mexico 1, San Francisco 1, New York 1, Hershey 1, Oompa Loompas 1, Fried Taters 1, Achilles 1, Qnexa 1
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